Users’ expectations of search engines have developed considerably during the short period they have existed, a Google blog post notes.
Amit Singhal, a fellow at the search giant, explains that users have moved on from “give me what I said” to a “give me what I want” stance.
In response to this, Google has invested massively in the way it crawls and presents websites, he continues, adding that the organisation works hard to serve its users with websites which are rich in relevant information.
Now, to a certain extent, this is obvious. MacDonald’s has to serve edible burgers (well, some may disagree!), Reuters has to produce up-to-date news and Tesco’s fruit and veg have to be fresh – there is simply too much consumer choice for them to fall behind the competition.
However, the search engine world is equally competitive but very different to fast food chains, news agencies and supermarkets, because an entire industry – that of search engine optimisation – has sprung up around the portals.
Our tactics are all geared towards increasing our clients’ rankings. We are paid to care about our customers’ requirements (increasing visibility) rather than the needs of those using search engines. Even we white hatters are solely concerned with where our clients’ websites rank.
I cannot deny that this industry could have been bad news for consumers, if Google and the other portals had not moved quickly to work against the unfair manipulation of its algorithm.
It is happy to promote white-hat (or ethical) SEO tactics because these do not detract from a user’s online experience. In fact, in some cases, SEO enriches it by making a site easily navigable, filled with useful content and so on.
However, the future is bleak for black hatters. Search engines will come down heavily and consistently against attempts to manipulate the results unethically because offering useless websites damages their brand. They cannot afford to do otherwise.